Say it with me. Sekou Doumbouya.
Alright, there we go.
With the 15th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, the Pistons chose the 18-year-old Doumbouya from France. The youngest player in the draft, many casual fans are confused about who the Pistons just selected. Hardcore fans are either ecstatic that Detroit got a player who slipped out of the projected top 10, or a bit frustrated that the Pistons didn’t make a safer pick, like Brandon Clarke or Grant Williams.
I think it’s safe to feel both ways, and have mixed feelings about the pick. At first glance, getting a 6’9” wing type on a roster filled with guys 6’6” or under fills a need. Every report you will find will tell you that Doumbouya is oozing with potential. As far as immediate impact is concerned, it’s unlikely that he comes into the season with a lot of minutes at this point in the offseason. It’s possible that Doumbouya could surprise Dwane Casey and the Pistons’ coaching staff and impress in training camp.
While the pick was risky, there’s a lot of signs that show that Detroit will groom Sekou Doumbouya into an impact player for years to come. I am confident in this organization’s front office and staff from top to bottom, and it is clear that the Pistons are committed to making the most out of this year’s 15th pick.
Sekou Doumbouya was the right pick for the Pistons, and here’s why:
Let’s get a few of the arbitrary reasons why Doumbouya will pan out for the Pistons out of the way.
He was the 15th pick, which is where Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo were selected in this decade. Okay, but so were Adrien Payne and Troy Brown Jr.
His name is hard to pronounce, like other international stars Giannis and Pascal Siakam. Seriously. This is a reason I’ve heard fans defend his future success.
Believe it or not, Sekou Doumbouya could pan out for the Pistons because he’s actually a good player, with the potential to be great.
NBADraft.net lists Doumbouya as a “prototypical new age, two-way combo forward with great defensive upside.” A scan up and down the Pistons roster makes it evident that the Pistons needed a wing with size and scoring ability, who has the capability to be a plus defender. Doumbouya checks those boxes, with enough size to spare Blake Griffin at the 4 spot in short increments. 6’9”, 230-pound Doumbouya has the athleticism to play both forward spots for Detroit in the future.
On offense, Sekou is visually impressive. He is an incredible leaper off of two feet or from either foot. His athleticism allows him to get out in good positions to start fast breaks, along with quick cuts for open layups. He is relatively new to basketball, and is still learning and building his basketball IQ.
Even with good shooting mechanics, his shot is a worry for Pistons fans. At only 18 years old, he has plenty of time to make strides. According to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, senior advisor Ed Stefanski and head coach Dwane Casey, along with Pistons director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky, met with Doumbouya before the draft at his public workout in Dallas. They were enamored with his workout and his interview, with Stefanski saying “He knocked down a ton of jump shots. I mean, a ton.”
Doumbouya’s defensive potential could be his true calling card. He measured with a 6’11” wingspan and has shown to be super active on defense. He blocks shots from weakside help, usually stays low and in front of his man on the perimeter, and can guard multiple positions. The issues for him on defense at the moment are his consistency and awareness. He’s a ball watcher, and out of position too often. Doumbouya relies on his athleticism to a fault, and he will need to clean up a few of his common errors to unlock what he could be on defense.
The main knocks on Doumbouya are how young he is, and how raw he is. Each one of his weaknesses can be credited to simply being raw and still new to basketball. These are worthy doubts, but we can’t forget about all of the tools he will have at his disposal to become the player the Pistons need him to be for the future. Head coach Dwane Casey is credited with a lot of the Raptors’ success as far is player development is concerned. Assistant coach Sean Sweeney has been credited for working closely with a young and developing Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Sekou Doumbouya will have the resources and the belief from the organization to succeed long term. As young and athletic as he is, it will take some time and a concentrated effort from both Doumbouya and the Pistons to get the most out of this selection. If he can put all of the pieces together, there’s no telling how good Sekou can be for Detroit. Picking Doumbouya was a calculated risk from a usually safe Pistons’ front office, and we can only hope the team struck gold on their 1st round pick.
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